My Sustainability Journey (Final Blog)

My definition of sustainability has not changed dramatically from the beginning of this semester. I have always defined sustainability as conserving resources, recycling and “being green” because of this class I now know how to do all of these things by what I have learned. My definition of sustainable design has changed however. To be honest I never really thought about sustainable design or sustainability before enrolling in this class. Don’t get me wrong, I do care about preserving our resources and keeping the planet clean (who doesn’t?) but I never thought about it on a daily basis like I do now. I now think about how I can reuse fabric, muslin, zippers etc. when I design new garments. Sustainable design to me is not all about being eco-friendly but creating products that people value and will use forever to eliminate the amount of products thrown away. An emotional attachment needs to be created between people and their products so they value them more and will be less inclined to throw them away.

I had a few “epiphanies” related to sustainability this past semester. The most memorable one being my spring break trip on a Carnival cruise. Everyday during the trip I realized how something was being wasted and how un-sustainable a cruise was. Food is thrown away everyday even if it hadn’t even been touched, towels and sheets are washed in hot water ever day. Tons of energy and electricity is used daily to light the ship, some lights are constantly on. I realized that you have to want to be sustainable to start making changes. The people on the cruise don’t care about being wasteful because they are “on vacation” so they feel like they can do whatever they want without feeling guilty. No one would wash their sheets and towels everyday at their homes so why do they do the exact opposite on vacation? I believe when people don’t see a direct outcome they forget about the negative impacts our actions can have on the environment. But the negative effects are still there whether people recognize them or not.

I had another epiphany not too long ago while I was preparing my garments for the Euphoria show. I had created a mess of muslin and fabric all over my house as well as paper scraps and threads. It was then that I realized how wasteful I was being. My bag of muslin scraps was over flowing and it what then that I started to make an effort to reuse all paper, fabric and muslin scraps that I could. I started to separate the scraps into piles depending on their size. The smaller pieces and threads were eventually thrown away but the bigger pieces were kept for future projects.

At the beginning of this “journey” I thought I knew what sustainability was but I didn’t know exactly how to achieve sustainability. Throughout each unit I learned new outlets for sustainability including, empathic design, industrial ecology, local motive, cradle2cradel and biomimcry. I was able to expand my creative thinking related to sustainable design by thinking about products designed with the above outlets in mind. The journey wasn’t always easy, I had to really become aware of my own actions and how they are impacting the environment. I also realized that as a designer I have the power to create new sustainable products that can help others to become passionate about sustainability.

Knowing what I know now I would be very interested in learning more about industrial ecology and biomimcry. I found those two topics most beneficial and interesting to me. The idea of using nature to solve world problems is such a simple concept but is hardly utilized. Overall, I enjoyed this class and would consider taking another sustainability course in the future.

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